A demonstration scheduled to take place this week against the construction of a Batak church in Cilegon, a major coastal industrial city in Banten province, Indonesia, was canceled, after negotiations between the government and the community groups took place.
“Banten Community United”, a local community group intended to hold a demonstration to reject the existence and church building permit (IMB) of the Protestant Batak Christian Huria Church (HKBP). In a flier widely circulated through social media, the open invitation intended to gather at least 2,000 to 10,000 people who will meet at the starting point of the Great Mosque of Cilegon and the Al-Hadid Mosque of Cilegon City. The event was to be carried out in front of the People’s Representative Council (DPRD) Building and the Cilegon City Government at 1 pm.
However, after a meeting at the Cilegon Mayor’s Office on April ,attended by several parties such as the Mayor of Cilegon, Helldy Agustian, the Chair of the DPRD Cilegon, local organizations, to representatives from the Ministry of Religion, the demonstration was cancelled.
On the other hand, the construction of the Cilegon HKBP Church was also cancelled allegedly because the IMB process was incomplete. The local groups are also asked to obey and support the government, if all licensing requirements for IMB are fulfilled according to state legislation.
In Muslim-majority Indonesia, it is common for radical Islamic groups to oppose the construction or existence of churches in their areas. Even if the churches successfully obtained IMB, sometimes they still obstruct the construction or even damage the churches.